An investigation of the country church in Missouri
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The Country Church has recently become a subject of new interest and of great importance. It is attracting the attention not only of the ministry but also of the laity and must be considered anew. There is a vague feeling, which has become general, that the condition of the country church is not what it ought to be. Indeed there is a feeling that it is declining. It, however, has not assumed any definite form of expression. Little careful study has been given to the conditions and problems of the country churches. Literature is almost entirely lacking concerning them. At present it consists of a few magazine articles. These, for the greater part, are not to the point, being theoretical in character and written by men who evidently were not acquainted with the subject at first hand. What is true of the country church as a whole, in the above respects, is true of it in Missouri, to which this investigation is confined. So at the very beginning it became evident some original work would have to be done. Two questions at once arose. First, what shall be considered a country church? Second, what are its problems? (The first one necessarily had to be answered before any progress could be made either in setting forth its conditions or considering its problems.) In order to reach some conclusion in regard to the above two points, circular letters were sent to fifty men in various parts of the United States who were conversant with the conditions and problems of the church, both rural and urban, asking them: (1) where the division should be made between rural churches and urban churches; (2) to give five questions that they would like to have answered regarding the country church; and (3) to give sources of information on the subject.